"The universe is made of stories, not atoms." - Muriel Rukeyser
Parents know their kids long to hear stories. At bedtime, when our children were younger, we'd often hear: "Tell me a story" or "Read me a story." Little Critter, The Bernstein Bears, A Children’s Bible Storybook, and countless other characters and stories became part of our life.
This deep desire for story never leaves us. We read stories, watch stories, tell stories, and imagine ourselves as characters in God’s story all of our lives.
The Bible traffics in stories: 43% of the Bible is stories. Another 30% is poetry. God chose stories and poetry to form us, make us wonder, and engage us deeply in faith.
There is a reason for this: We are designed for stories. Our brains are hardwired to take in stories. In addition, who doesn’t love a good story?
Jonathan Gottscall reminds us in his book, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, that:
Research shows that story is constantly nibbling and working in us, shaping our mind without our knowledge or consent. The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent its influence.
Since the 1980s, churches have been encouraged to discern and pursue God’s vision for their family of God. This fruitful work has been critical in many congregations to being who God wants them to be.
As fruitful as that work is, I wonder if we’ve missed something in pursuing vision and mission statements, namely, writing our congregation’s future as a story. What would happen if we started telling the story about our future?
A story shaped by the wisdom of the body of Christ.
A story formed by the hopes and dreams of the citizens of the kingdom of God.
A story created with a deep longing for a world infused with shalom.
What if we told this story in word, art, music, dance, and more? Would this story imbed itself in our life as God’s new creation people? Would the story, if you will, begin to take on a life of its own?
Here is another truth about stories,
A shared story is not an idea. A shared story is a dramatic force in people’s hearts. People begin to see the story as if it exists.
What if our story flows from what we love as a people of God? See the blog What’s Love Got to Do With It? The Power of Naming What Your Congregation Loves.
Would this story bind us together? Would it stir our holy imaginations so we long for the future God places before us?
What does it look like for your family of faith to write such a story?
Does your heart long for this story?
If you, your leadership, or your congregation are interested in writing your God-given, hope-filled story, Vibrant Congregations offers a pathway to writing this story. You can connect with us via our website or email.